Gen Con 2016 was a whirlwind of gaming, events, meet-ups, and fun. This year I decided to forgo the multi-day tournament route and focus on smaller events/tournaments and check out some non-standard activities.  After 10 years of attending, I’m missing more and more so I’ve let go of that compulsion to try to do everything and just do what I can and what is fun.

Reese and Colton were in attendance as they have been for the last 6 years and we didn’t waste any time getting some gaming in.


My Onitama custom travel set worked out well as we flew over some non-descript Kansas scenery

After a relatively easy flight, we made it to the hotel and made it our own.


Next up was Gen Con proper.  As usual, we always plan to get everything done before the registration deadline but some publishers and event coordinators can’t get their stuff in order so I usually find some late entry events that I inevitably have to pick up at Will Call. Make no mistake, this is where fun goes to die. or sleep. either way it’s a bit of a buzz kill.


The front of this line is probably 300 yards away and the back was stretching out the doors and outside in the sun.  Since Will Call is 24/7, we skipped that nonsense and went straight for food.


I haven’t had Giordano’s in probably 12+ years so it was awesome to find this Chicago gem nestled right in Downtown Indy. I hear we’re getting one in Denver so that will be awesome.  As usual, The G did not disappoint and my over-hyping didn’t ruin Reese and Colton’s opinion either.  I need to move on. I’m salivating just looking at the picture…

We got back and I read that Stonemaier Games was hosting a free gaming room so we dropped by and saw the new Adult Codenames and Codenames Pictures.  With only 3 of us, Codenames would be a bit lame but we grabbed some other small groups and got a fun 7 player game going.  Codenames Pictures is interesting but seemed to be missing the subtleness of the original game.  A variant that sounded more intriguing (though we didn’t try) was to mix the field with both Codenames and the Pictures expansion to get the best of both worlds.

We usually only get one chance at the hotel pool and hot tub so we ducked out of the Stonemaier Games room early and I jumped in the Will Call line.  It was inside at least but I was surprised how fast it moved.  From my line picture above, I was likely only 20 yards farther up but was through with everything in about 35 minutes.

We got to the pool but found that the hot tub was broken.  The pool was nice but we eventually called it and went out to look for Ice Cream.  After a few restaurant fails, we finally found some deserts at the Tilted Kilt.  It was loud and obnoxious but the scenery wasn’t terrible and the ice cream brownie disaster I ate was pretty good.

Thursday morning had us going to check out the crush of people waiting for the opening ceremony and exhibit hall doors.  Gen Con has this pretty well under control now and for the most part, things looked civil.  It probably helps that some of the instigator publishers aren’t in the hall anymore (Wizkids was notorious for having extremely rare promos/merchandise and would typically cause disastrous gamer stampedes. I don’t miss them at all.)


hope no one down there has to pee…

Having nothing in particular that I needed to get once the doors opened.  I waited for the crush of people to die down and went in.  I only had an hour before my first event so Colton and I headed to the Hawk Wargames booth.  I don’t play with the faction that was the new “event exclusive” but I grabbed another awesome double-decker battle bus and a small pack of their regular civilian buses and trailer. Apparently, I snagged the last one of those and, while not exclusive, Hawk isn’t sure how they will sell those sets. Lucky me!

The line to buy these items wasn’t moving at all but the Hawk guys are pretty smart (this isn’t their first rodeo) and asked if we wanted to pay cash.  This illustrates reason number 587 on why you need to bring cash to Gen Con. Transaction completed, we set off to our various events.

My first event was for Championship Formula Racing (CFR) but it failed as no one showed up.  I found out later that the team that put the event together thought they made it for one specific day but the event duplicated for all days and they didn’t realize it until later.  I did get a game in that afternoon and found it quite fun.  I will definitely look for it to come out later this year.


my little red F1 was no match for the demoer’s green machine.

With more time than initially thought, I headed over to the Czech Games room to check out Adrenaline, a first-person shooter with euro area-control mechanics.


I caught up with a group of players about halfway through their game.  The designer was teaching so I watched for about 30 minutes.


This was probably my favorite game of the Con and I thought was going to get a chance to demo but the designer who happened to be teaching already scheduled the next game with a different group.  Disappointing but I saw enough of the game to know that it’s one I will definitely pick up.  The minis look great, the art and design is top-notch, and the game is interesting at almost every level.  Everything about it seems fresh and innovative and I can’t wait to get it on my table.

I had some additional dealer hall time (getting skunked out of several events will do that) so I went to see Pretzel Games.


Pretzel Games was showcasing their new Flick em Up expansion, Red Rock Tomahawk, as well as their new stand alone game, Junk Art.


I picked Red Rock Tomahawk as I love the Flick em Up system but have been lukewarm on Junk Art.  From what I’d read, it just didn’t seem to really have enough crunch or fun to it so I’ve only looked at it in passing.  There was an open demo starting however, so I figured I’d get in and give it a fair shake.  I was so wrong. The game is great fun and I can see a lot of different gamers liking this soon-to-be hit for Pretzel Games.  You play in several rounds, with each round being dictated by a set of randomly drawn rules (little mini-games that represent different cities you travel to showcasing your junk art masterpieces).  The two (of 12?) cities I played made each round very different and uniquely fun on their own.  These series of mini-games don’t last long so you can easily tailor the experience to the gaming group. It requires some dexterity, some spatial awareness, and even some strategy in some of the mini-games.  I didn’t have time/money to pick this up in the hall so I’ll have to wait to try and get it when it has a wider release.

I’ll be back for rest of the Gen Con 2016 in my next post.